When Neiko Robinson
finally set foot on University Park soil in mid-January, it was everything he thought the sprawling campus tucked away in the Pennsylvania mountains would be. From the football facilities to the academic campus itself, the 6-foot, 170-pound prospect from Northview High (Century, Fla.) could sense there and then what he previously sensed from afar -- that Penn State
was the place he wanted to call home.
And Wednesday, he made it official, signing and faxing his National Letter of Intent to PSU, officially joining the Nittany Lions' 17 member Class of 2013.
“It [the visit] was good. It was fun,” Robinson said. “I really like it there. They were nice; everything was nice. It was really like I could see myself lifting weights and running on the practice field.”
Robinson committed to Penn State back on June 4, drawn into the Nittany Lion lair by then-defensive coordinator Ted Roof. Offers from Minnesota and Purdue clouded his recruiting process slightly, but the FOX Sports NEXT two-star prospect was drawn back completely in by new defensive coordinator John Butler. Robinson expressed his interest and appreciation for Butler before visiting University Park, but afterward, he had a new appreciation for the Nittany Lions' new defensive signal caller.
“I mean, first of all, he's going to shoot ya straight. He's not going to beat around the bush,” Robinson said. “As a kid, you need that, for a coach to tell you the truth and not lie. When he says something, he means it. He has discipline, and I like that.”
FOX Sports NEXT's National Recruiting analyst Allen Trieu also liked what he saw in Robinson, naming him the sleeper of this Penn State class.
“A fine athlete, he does a nice job of playing centerfield as he has good instincts and ball skills,” Trieu wrote. “What stood out as well was that he wasn't just making interceptions, he was running them back for scores.”
And that burner return speed may just get better yet, after Robinson received some out of the norm advice during a run-of-the-mill stretching session with an athletic trainer at Northview.
“We have a trainer at my high school, and one day he was stretching me and said, 'Dude, you aren't suppose to be running that fast; you're hips are tight. If you can get them loose, then you can run faster and hit harder.' I'm all about that,” Robinson said. “I want to work on getting more flexible, because the way my hips are now, and as stacked as I am, I'm excited about seeing when my hips get loose, how much faster and stronger I can get.”
And to do that, he's taken to a mat and some meditation daily.
“He recommended that I take yoga, so I do it and stretch every day. I do cardio workouts every day, as well,” Robinson said. “I'll do anything I can to help that stuff out so that it won't be a problem.”
The senior is also pleased with the reports he's heard from his early enrollee teammates, who are already a month into their first semester at Penn State.
“All these guys in our class, they are good, hard-working guys,” Robinson said. “The guys that [enrolled early] aren't up there going to parties every night and being lazy. They are going hard in one-on-ones, going hard in the weight room and getting those extra workouts in. That pumps me up.”
And in June, he'll begin pumping up his body and academic load by joining them on campus, finally fulfilling the vision he had of running on the Nittany Lions practice field.
“We have some good players in our class. We have a class that is a lot better than a lot of other classes,” Robinson said. “We have a lot of players down here that are going to Alabama and stuff, and I know some of those guys. I know our guys are better than them, and I think our class will shock a lot of people.”
Florida speedster Robinson signs with Penn State after a January visit affirms his vision of the school.
Florida speedster Robinson signs with PSU after January visit affirms his vision of the school.